Remembering September 11th
9 years ago
One of the most frequent questions we receive from our "ask your own question" section here at tombguard.org is about September 11th, 2001. Here is my perspective.
On September 11, 2001 I was assigned to the Tomb. I had recently earned my Tomb Guard Identification Badge in the previous month after nearly nine months of training. However, my relief was not working that day. I was waking up to the news of the World Trade Center attacks on nearby Fort Myer adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery. Immediately following the attack on the Pentagon, the approximate 30 soldiers assigned to guard the Tomb were summoned to the Arlington Cemetery.
In the aftermath of that day, the cemetery was closed around 1030hrs. Ceremonial guard duty was ceased at that time and two guards were posted in BDUs (battle dress uniform). Myself and another soldier were the first two soldiers assigned to guard the Tomb that day as the first 'non ceremonial' guards. A security perimeter was set up around the Tomb as well.
The day was hectic. In the ensuing days, some Tomb Guards were dispatched to the Pentagon to assist with locating survivors or to serve as body bearers. The cemetery opened some days later with the return of ceremonial guard duty. However, the Tomb was continuously guarded during this time.
Later in the day, some of us went down to Section 68 for a better view. Debris from the blast was in the area supposedly, and law enforcement personnel shooed us away. It was an interesting day and a unique point of view to have. I can still see the columns of smoke rising above the trees from where the plane hit the Pentagon.
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Did you know?
How many times will a Sentinel be on duty during the shift?
Each Relief has a 24 hour rotational work day. Ideally, four qualified Sentinels, one Relief Commander (RC), one Assistant Relief Commander (ARC), and several Sentinels in training comprise the Relief. The daily walk schedule is made by the RC or ARC and is dependent on the number of Sentinels who are proficient enough to guard the Tomb in front of the public. Generally, the Sentinel will do several walks back to back and then be done for the day. However, in extreme cases, Sentinels have been known to go back-to-back (every other walk) for the entire shift.